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Mnangagwa says Zanu PF now ready for by-elections, set for next year

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says Zanu PF is now ready for by-elections after more than a year of their controversial suspension hiding under the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa ( AFP/Getty Images )
President Emmerson Mnangagwa ( AFP/Getty Images )

Addressing Zanu PF supporters at Kopa Grounds in Chimanimani on Wednesday, Mnangagwa said his government had slated by-elections for the first quarter of 2022.

He added the ruling party would use the plebiscite as a litmus test of its capacity to hold the 2023 harmonised general elections.

“We will be holding by-elections during the first quarter of 2022. As Zanu PF, we want a clean sweep of all the vacant seats.

“This will serve as a litmus test of our preparedness for the 2023 harmonised elections. We should register and vote in our numbers to ensure that the country remains in safe hands,” Mnangagwa said.

Call for by-elections mainly started last year after the smaller MDC-T leaders Douglas Mwonzora and Thokozani Khupe recalled more than half of MDC Alliance MPs and councillors accusing them of supporting main opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga and President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Vice President, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga and President Emmerson Mnangagwa

But Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as Minister of Health, through a Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020, suspended them indefinitely citing it was a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

During the peak of the suspension, MDC Alliance accused Zanu PF of thwarting democratic space by not allowing the filling up of the vacant seats left by the recalled members both in the Parliament, Senate and Council.

“The MDC Alliance is deeply concerned with the unconstitutionality of the decision to suspend by-elections. Section 159 of the Constitution requires vacant elective public office to be filled within 90 days,” the party said.

“This constitutional imperative cannot be overturned by subsidiary legislation as the Constitution is the Supreme Law. The effective banning of elections follows the unlawful recalls of elected representatives from Parliament and Local Government. The will of the people continues to be violated by the illegitimate regime of Mr Mnangagwa.

“We are of the firm view that it is grossly unreasonable to ban by-election when Covid-19 restrictions continue to be eased throughout the country. Various electoral activities are taking place such as internal party elections by Zanu PF and extraordinary congresses by other parties. In the circumstances there is no justification for the ban.”

Two months ago, the US embassy in Harare actually noted that the suspension of by-elections had left 754 000 people in 26 constituencies with no representation in Parliament, after recalls of the legislators aligned to Chamisa.

The embassy pressured Mnangagwa to hold by-elections noting many countries were doing the same under Covid-19.

“When will the Zimbabwean government resume by-elections? Long-standing parliamentary vacancies have left over 754 000 voters in 26 constituencies without elected representation. Only by-elections will restore these citizens’ rights to representation,” the US embassy said.

“Many countries have held elections despite the pandemic, including Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, and the United States, demonstrating that COVID-19-safe elections are possible. We are confident Zimbabwe can do the same #ZimsSafetoVote #ZimVotesMatter.” Nehanda Radio